Section 193C of the Crimes Act 1900 states that it is a criminal offence to knowingly deal with property that is suspected of being the proceeds of crime.
Dealing with property that is the proceeds of crime is a summary offence, and is punishable by up to two years of imprisonment if the value of the property is less than $100,000 at the time.
For someone to be charged with a proceeds of crime offence, certain factors need to be in place.
The main factor is that the defendant needs to be aware, or have reason to suspect, that the property they are dealing with was obtained through criminal activity.
If the defendant can show that there were no reasonable grounds for them to suspect that the property they were found dealing with was obtained through illegal means, they can’t be found guilty of this particular offence.
As well as proceeds of crime, there are a number of more serious charges that may apply, depending on the value of the property and the defendant’s involvement in any accompanying criminal activity.
If the value of the property is $100,000 or more at the time of dealing, and it would be reasonable to suspect that the defendant was aware that the property was proceeds of crime obtained through illegal means, the maximum penalty increases to three years in prison.
Is dealing with property as the proceeds of crime the same as money laundering?
Money laundering is a more serious offence with a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment.
Money laundering also deals with property or money that is the proceeds of crime, but with the additional factor that the defendant has to be proven to have been trying to conceal the offence, and make the money appear to be from legitimate sources.
A charge of money laundering will often accompany an in-depth investigation of an individual or organisation’s financial records and reporting procedures.
As money laundering is a serious charge, it is usually dealt with by the district or supreme court and the investigation process can be complex and lengthy.
Depending on the defendant’s level of involvement and how aware they were of the source of the money, the penalties for this offence can range from 10 to 20 years in prison.
Due to the severe penalties that often accompany money laundering, it is important that anybody who is facing a charge of money laundering seek expert legal representation as early as possible.
Money laundering can be a complex issue to prove or disprove, so finding a criminal lawyer experienced in these matters is essential.
Can the police confiscate property bought with the proceeds of crime?
As well as facing potential imprisonment and fines, a defendant who is found guilty of a proceeds of crime offence may have their property confiscated.
Property that is proven to be obtained partially or wholly through criminal activity can include real estate and other assets.
Even if only part of a property is found to have been funded through illegal activity, in certain cases, the entire house or other asset could be liable for confiscation, which can cause severe financial hardship, particularly to families and dependants of those found guilty.